Vehicles are eventually (and unfortunately) going to break down, it is how we handle when our car breaks down that matters. Driving a faulty vehicle is dangerous and scary, so safety is always the top priority.

Do you want to be prepared for whatever lies ahead pertaining to your vehicle? This breakdown guide is great for new drivers as well as experienced ones and will give you direction on what steps to take for safety and efficiency.

Be Safe

If your vehicle breaks down while you are driving the most important thing to remember is to be safe. Your safety is more important than your vehicle.

Do not attempt to drive your vehicle if it is malfunctioning. As soon as you can safely pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot you should do it and turn the vehicle off.

Call someone to help you, or to follow you home to the mechanic if you are close enough. If not then call a tow truck or roadside assistance.

Stay Calm When Your Car Breaks Down

When our vehicles break down we may start to panic about not reaching our destinations or about the cost of fixing them. Our first reaction will probably be anger, panic, or anxiety.

In high-stress situations such as our vehicles breaking down, we need to stay calm or we will not be able to think rationally about our next step, and how we can stay safe.

Keep Records

Remember exactly what the vehicle did, what noises it was making, how it was acting, and at what time (acceleration, etc).

These records will help you when you are talking to the mechanic so that they can better understand what the problem is. It may also save them time when diagnosing and repairing a car which is good because they charge by the hour.

Check the Obvious

Our vehicles are so readily available to us that we can sometimes overlook obvious signs that it is giving us that something is not right.

The most obvious sign and a surprisingly common thing to be overlooked is the gas light. Did your vehicle run out of gas without you realizing that you were low on fuel?

For electric vehicles, perhaps you just need a charge. Running out of power is the equivalent of running out of gas in a fuel-powered vehicle.

Another obvious sign to even someone that does not have any mechanical knowledge is if the vehicle is overheating. You should see a symbol displayed on the dash, and the temperature gauge will be reading hot.

Other common car problems include:

  • Battery
  • Electrical
  • Transmission
  • Engine
  • Belts
  • Radiator

The internet is a very helpful source for problem-solving mechanical issues. Type in the symptoms and you will receive several possible answers for guidance on fixing a car.

Talk to a Mechanic

Getting a diagnosis might not be free. Some mechanic shops charge for the time it takes to get you a diagnosis, yet some will apply that cost towards the actual repair.

Will the vehicle start? If it is not drivable you may need to get the vehicle towed to the mechanic shop.

Inquire as to whether the shop offers to tow if you do not have a towing package through your auto insurance or AAA.

Save money by asking a friend or family member that has AAA if you can use their card. As long as they are there with you when the vehicle gets towed there should be no charge for local towing.

For future reference, a service like AAA is well worth the low annual cost. They provide services like flat tire changing and a few tows per year which is way more affordable than paying a towing company.

When you have the mechanic’s attention ask what parts are needed and how difficult it is to repair the issue. This information will be useful should you decide to do the repairs yourself.

Call Around For Quotes 

Unless you already have a mechanic that you can trust and rely on to do the job right, calling around for multiple quotes is never a bad idea. You may find that the quote you receive from mechanic to mechanic can vary greatly and save you money.

As long as you have the initial diagnosis from the first mechanic you should not have to pay for a second diagnosis before getting another quote. Simply tell them where you took it, what the diagnosis was, and how much the quote was.

Be honest and tell them that you are shopping around for the best price. Compare your quotes from the different shops to see who gave you the lowest quote.

Check on a Vehicle Warranty

Once you have your diagnosis and quotes you can check on your vehicle’s warranty to see if it is still active and if the repairs are covered under the warranty. If your warranty is still active you might not have to spend any money out of your own bank account.

While you are checking on your warranty ask about any recalls that have been issued for your year, make, and model of vehicle. Recalls are issued all the time and maybe the cause of your vehicle’s breakdown.

If there is an active recall they will tell you which repair shop to take your vehicle to for the repairs. Most times for recall work you will have to take it to a specific dealership.

Can You Fix It?

After talking to several mechanics you will have a good idea of what the problem is, how much it will cost to get professionally fixed, and how detailed repairs would be.

If you feel confident that you can fix the problem yourself you will save a lot of money. With all of the how-to videos online you can probably find one that will walk you through each step of the process of fixing a car.

Ask one of your handy friends to come over and give you a hand. Not only will it give you an extra set of hands to work with you will also have another set of eyes and brain to figure things out.

Having a mechanic do the repairs may save you on time, though. They do jobs like this every day whereas you do not.

Repairing a Car

Do you feel more prepared to handle (and maybe assess) vehicle issues now? Assuming that you will get the repairs done when your car breaks down, and do not want to buy a new one- find a reliable mechanic or buy the parts and do it yourself!

We have so many more lifestyle and home improvement tips that you can check out once you get your repairs done!